There’s nothing like a latte, grapefruit mimosa and puff pastry for breakfast. We were leaving for Salida after a few days and started our drive with bellies full of New Orleans style french toast, eggs and sausages and lots of delicious buttery bread.

Salida is about a 3,5 hour drive south. It is west of Colorado Springs and sits along the Arkansas River in a lovely valley 7,000 feet above sea level (about 2000 meters up).  The drive is stunning and you often feel like you’re alone in the world. 

Oh, deer. During the cold winter months, Casey’s Aunt and Uncle help out the deer by feeding them deer food. They are so friendly they often peek through the window and come running when you open the door. We had about 35 of them starring at us every time we were going somewhere and I actually miss them. They were so cute. They looks a little different from on the East Coast. They have adorably cute bunny ears and they seem shorter.

Not a lot of people live in Salida, only about 5,500, but it’s the top small town for art. Of the few shops in the downtown shopping center, roughly half are art galleries.  The last time we visited we bought a Carl Ortman piece and this time we added a couple of glass sculptures by Brice Turnbull (we have a lovely piece from our last trip that Casey’s Aunt and Uncle gave us as a wedding gift).

The Arkansas River runs through the town and Salida is also a popular town for water rafting and whitewater kayaking. People come from all over the world to compete here. You can see some slalom poles hanging in the water in the above photo.

We were supposed to spend a day skiing at the near-by Monarch Mountain opted for just eating lunch at their ski restaurant instead. The resort is one of the best in Colorado and has a more of an old time feel to it compared to the newer ski resorts. The slopes don’t look so high in this photo but you have to consider we’re already at 11,000 feet (3,300 meters). We’re eager to come back for some skiing.

Funny story, I bought that fur hat in Boulder a few days earlier and I was so excited about finally finding one that I liked. Turns out it was made in Sweden! Go figure. 🙂

We also visited the Royal Gorge which is a popular vacation destination. At a top elevation of 6,626 feet, it has a drop of 1,250 feet (380 m) in places and the narrow steep gorge is about 10 miles long. It has a pretty interesting history from Native American buffalo hunting, to a bitter struggle between rail road companies for the right of way through the canyon. In 1929, Canon City built the Royal Gorge Bridge which held the record for the highest bridge in the world from 1929 to 2003. The worlds tallest today is the Millau Bridge in South of France. It was a wonderful experience we got to share with Casey’s Aunt and Uncle.

Making our way back to Denver, we drove through the mountains and passed through Leadville which is situation 10,152 feet (3,094 m) high up. It’s the highest city in the US but only has a population of only 2,000 (at one point it was the most populated city after Denver in Colorado due to silver mining). We stopped in Vail for lunch and had a nice walk around the village. Vail has several art galleries that we looked into. Maybe one day it will be my painting hanging on the wall with a price tag of $78,000.

It was a wonderful relaxing vacation that gave a lot of inspiration for more creations. It was so nice to come home again and cuddle with the kitties. They were so excited to see us and were glued to our sides for several days afterwards. I didn’t pick up a paint brush during the whole week so it was extra special to come home and finish Tulip Landscape